Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 170
Marianne Chevreuse, the protagonist, is a wealthy young woman who enjoys living on her family estate in rural France. In her twenties, she is still unmarried and prefers spending her time riding her horse. Nevertheless, she contemplates future wedded bliss with her beloved, Pierre André, who instead has toward her a rather paternal affection, as he is her godfather. The plot advances as pressure builds for her to marry a suitable partner. Soon Philippe Gaucher, a young artist looking for a wealthy wife, turns up and begins to pursue Marianne. The central question becomes this: will she end up with either man, or will she remain unmarried?
Marianne, it is revealed, is both sensitive and level-headed. Philippe seems to her pretentious and insincere in his aesthete stance, and even while spending time with him, she actually resists his charms. Once he sees Philippe in action, however, Pierre realizes his true feelings for Marianne. As the two come together, the reader understands it as union of minds as well as hearts.